The teeth whitening industry is booming. Mainstream media has become saturated with images of celebrities with bright white teeth, so it is no wonder the general population has become obsessed with getting that perfect Hollywood smile. It seems there is an advertisement for teeth whitening at every corner, but how safe are these procedures and the people that are performing them?
How does Teeth Whitening Work?
There are a number of different ways to whiten teeth, with everything from oil pulling, whitening tooth paste and even gels. However, the strongest and most effective method are those which have to be administered by a dentist, using stronger chemicals that can visibly lighten the colour of your teeth. Although these are more powerful, they also carry a higher risks of something going wrong.
One of the most popular methods is teeth bleaching, which involves a solution made form hydrogen peroxide being applied to the teeth. Although it won’t make your teeth white as paper, it will lighten them by a number of shades, depending on how many treatments you have. It takes a few visits to the dentist for the process to get started, but you will do a lot of the treatment at home. Your dentist will take a mould of your teeth, which will then be created into a custom mouth guard, then you will apply the bleaching gel to your teeth regularly over a few weeks, for up to an hour at a time.
More recently, laser teeth whitening has grown in popularity, which provides more immediate results and is carried out in the dentist’s chair. This process is more expensive, as the laser that is used speeds up the whitening process. A dentist will apply a protective gel on the gums to prevent any damage, then apply the bleaching agent to the teeth, which will then be activated by the laser. This process claims to whiten teeth by up to six shades, although this is never guaranteed.
Is teeth whitening risk free?
Unfortunately, teeth whitening isn’t a procedure without risks. Some of the possible effects can be temporary, however there are others with can cause extreme pain and discomfort as well as long term difficulties. These side effects include:
- Increased sensitivity: The solutions used for teeth whitening can include as much as 16% hydrogen peroxide which can cause the tooth enamel to erode, which can cause painful sensitivity of the teeth.
- Chemical Burns: Our gums are sensitive and when exposed to these chemicals it can cause serious burns which can lead to irreversible damage. In extreme cases, it has been known to weaken the gums to the extent of tooth loss.
Can anyone perform teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening is classed as dental procedure, therefore it should only ever be performed by a dentist, or someone under the supervision of a dentist, such as; a dental hygienist, dental therapist or dental technician. Anyone offering teeth whitening without the correct credentials may be doing so illegally and putting your oral health at risk.
If you are considering teeth whitening, avoid beauty salons, spa’s or mobile beauticians offering this service that aren’t doing so under the supervision of a dentist. Though they may claim to be trained, they may not have the medical expertise to deal with your injuries should something go wrong, nor training needed to follow the correct procedures.
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